Though it doesn't quite recapture that 1978 lightning in a bottle, this sequel is, in just about every way, the best made of the series. This Halloween is true to what made the original so memorable, while simultaneously representing a massive filmmaking upgrade. Director David Gordon Green creates creepy tension with camera angles and blurry figures casually moving through backgrounds. Characters and relationships have actually been considered. And, wisely, franchise entries number two through nine have been discarded, while the ending of the original has been tweaked so that Michael was captured. Curtis' Laurie, 40 years later, is a self-medicating PTSD sufferer. But instead of going into a catatonic shell, she's honed a rock-hard one, undergoing a more realistic Sarah Connor-like transformation to become a survivalist who never stops looking over her shoulder.
As co-written by frequent collaborators Green and Danny McBride, Halloween is rife with sly references to the franchise and meta touches (such as a kid telling his beloved babysitter not to go upstairs to see if there's a killer there: "Send Dave up first!"). Fans will appreciate the well-placed shot references to the original. Michael is actually played by the 1978 actor (and a stuntman). Inescapable '80s crush P.J. Soles, who met a grisly end in the original, has a cameo. Make no mistake, though: This film is straight-up horror, and its violence is extreme. But this Michael, though improbably stealthy, isn't the unkillable demon of the sequels. He gets hurt, he can be slowed, and intelligence can work effectively against him. And, in perhaps the film's most significant break from tradition, the female characters -- while menaced by a male stalker -- are the smartest and strongest ones in the film. It's creepy, tense, fun; violent as hell; and downright feminist. This alternate-universe-sequel Halloween takes its place among the more respectable entries of the slasher genre.